Monday, December 27, 2010

Loved and Hated it, Pro Cycling in 2010

A wild year in Pro Cycling to say the least - from Tour Down Under all the way through to the Worlds it was a very unique season.

5 things I enjoyed in 2010:

1. Cadel actually attacking in races!

You would find no bigger critic of Cadel Evans prior to his win at the Worlds.  I used to say he might as well ride a Hoover since he only sucked on wheels.  I always thought he was a very talented rider that was just happy to be on the podium.  It didn't help that he talks like an Aussie Mike Tyson and blows up in front of TV cameras as often as Lindsey Lohan.  I was even a member of a group on Facebook titled "Cadel needs to grow a pair".  I have to say his riding blew me away in 2010 and I am no longer a member of this group.  Watching Cadel come around Conta at Fleche' was amazing! That was my favorite race finish all year. Then he earned big points as a hard man by winning the EPIC and nasty stage 7 of the Giro.  Bravo Cadel!

2. Lance on the cobbles chasing at the Tour de France.

I will never apologize for being an Armstrong fan.  I have always said of athletes like MJ or any of the boxers that made comebacks, that it is their talent and gift to use up as they see fit. Some think that Jordan's time as Wizard was a failure.  I still remember he dropped 50 points in a game as a Wizard and mentored a guy named Rip Hamilton that went on to win a ring. The Tour did not go as as anyone would have predicted for Lance.  To see him raging on the cobbles reminded  me of the killer instinct that got me to watch him since 99. To see that max effort after the flat tire was to once again see him fly like he did on Sestriere. I will also give him props for finishing the race and not letting Lemond's prediction become true.  Love him or hate him, you watched! 


What can I say - he made my 2 favorite races of the year into boring affairs as he just ripped the legs off the field.  He timed his attacks to perfection and left everyone looking for 2nd place. 

4.  Vino being back to being Vino:

I know, I know, a majority of you hate Vino.  I have to ask why?  Is it because he is like a cycling version of a Bond villian?  The doping?  If it the Bond villain thing, I guess that's fair because he really is that type of character.  If it is the doping, I would just ask you if you supported Basso's comeback.  I am way better with Vino's attempts to deny, then finally admitting to his "dark years", than I am with Basso's Clintonian  style "I only thought about doping" after he won the Giro by NINE minutes.  If Basso get's another chance at glory and race wins, so should Vino.  I am a bit biased, as I have been on 2 stages at the Tour that Vino has won and I have always liked his "Damn the Torpedoes" style.  He has a bit of Cannibal going on and I kinda dig it.  It think the sport is better with Vino as a character (assuming that he is as clean as the next former doper). Watching him win Liege to a chorus of boos was cool and shitty at the same time.

5. Young Guns taking USA jersey's:

The future of USA cycling is very bright with Taylor Phinney and Ben King taking out all the USA championship jersey's for 2010.  I was blown away that 2 under 23 riders could take the TT and Road Jerseys. I look forward to one or both of these guys racking up some big pro races in Europe.

The 5 things I hated in 2010:

1. Stage 17 of the Tour de France:

I was looking forward to an all out war between Schleck and Conta after "Chain Gate".  Andy has been fuming with his "Stomach Full of Anger" and I thought this could lead to one of the greatest stages ever.  What I got instead was a tit for tat race up the mountain with Conta gifting Andy the stage.  I was stunned as I watched the finish.  I could not believe that Andy not only took the gift, but posted up (worst looking post up in cycling! He looks like a constipated version of DJ Qualls) as he crossed the line.  Conta gave up a stage and made Andy his bitch and BFF all in one well played move. As @HeidiSwift  tweeted after the stage "They must have had amazing make up sex." Pisterleo is one of the shiftiest guys to ride on 2 wheels.  Many times he did not see "it" or could not hear "it" in his radio and apologizes for "it" as he goes on to win.  This was another example of a skill set unique to Conta.

2.  WTF is up with that kit?

Fotton Servetto shocked the world of all things tasteful at the Tour Down under.  In a move that would not even have been supported by the GAP or zoo keepers they showed up in khaki Lycra.  In one way I can respect the concept of a kit so effing ugly your riders are ravenous to get into ANY leaders jersey or National Champions jersey.  Other than motivation to get out of this kit, it was just wrong to have pro athletes rolling in kits that appeared to have their asses hanging out of them.  This kit karma came back to bite them in the ass as they were denied a Pro Tour license this year.  As we say at Handlebar Mustache,  "If it's not PRO, it's a HELL NO!" and this kit was far from pro!

3. The Spanish Cycling Federation:

The fact the Alejandro "Valvpitti" Valverde was still racing and taking wins and money from other pro riders in 2010 is enough reason to hate the Spanish Federation.  They are the only county in the world that seems to be out to hide and protect their athletes.  Even the Kazaks and Chinese will suspend their riders without having to go all the way to the CAS.  I am convinced the Spanish would defend one of their riders even if they took a transfusion on the podium.  The country that brought you  Dr. Fuentez and Manalo Saiz now has the Clenbuterol steak affair to deal with.  Bets on if Conta's case has to go all the way to the CAS?

4.  The Giro Prolight helmet:

Especially in ORANGE!  I don't care how light this lid is.  I don't care if it has more vents than other helmets.  I don't care if it has performacne enhancing herbes built into it.  It looks like a $10 child's helmet from Walmart.  In orange it makes even a cool cat like David Millar look like an Umpa Lumpa. If you head is that heavy shave it and just stick to the Ionos guys!

5.  Bjarne "Mr. 60" Riis being Bjarne Riis:

I have always wondered how Riis can keep falling into dookie and come up smelling like he is wearing Sex Panther.  A few historical highlights of Mr. 60:
* The 1996 Tour winner that admitted to doping in order to win that Tour
* Directs Ivan Basso to a win the Giro by 9 minutes then he get busted in Operation Puerto 2 months later.  Riis drops him like a bad habit.
* Is linked to a 7 thousand Euro payment to Dr. Fuentez for Frank Schleck's "training plans"

2010: He negotiated with Alberto Contador while his rider Andy Schleck was battling it out for the overall with him at the Tour.  He sends home long time great teammates Staurt O' Grady and Andy Schleck from the Vuelta for "staying out too late". Obviously a huge moralist, I am sure Bjarne would have played this the same way if these guys were riding for Saxo in 2011. All that said, he still is able to secure sponsors when others teams drop like flies.  Bjarne must have pictures of several really high level people doing some pretty interesting things.

2011 brings new sponsors, new teams, new gear, new talent and a ton of opportunity.  We are sure there will be more drama on and off the roads.  We are confident that it will be a very interesting season ahead and it starts in just a few weeks.

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